The NBA Game Breakdown takes an in-depth look at all of the games on the schedule each day in terms of expected pace of play, Vegas lines, and defense vs. position match ups.

 

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Heat @ Magic

Game Analysis

Miami has won three of five with the over hitting in all of them. The normally slow paced defensive minded Heat have exploded for 3 games of 109 or more recently which is very out of the box for them this year. It has coincided with Bosh being out which makes even less sense to me. As for Orlando they have won three straight games and played to the under in five of the last six. Over that stretch they have not allowed one opponent to reach 100 points against them. This one is a little confusing to figure today. The question to consider is will the team who was one of the lowest scoring in the league up to this point be able to score against the team who has paced down and upped the defense or will the team who all of a sudden is putting up a lot of points dominate the team that has struggled to defend almost every position so far this season? Season long history suggests the under will hit here, but if you put more stock in recent numbers then the Heat may put up a lot of points and the Magic should limit their pace. Vegas has it as one of the better totals on the day with a close spread. Normally I would stay away from this game, but we only have two games with really nice totals to target today and the rest are right around the 200 level. There’s a lot of cheap guys getting minutes here, so you have to consider it. With a 200 point total the expensive options are all in play too, even though the top 2 on each side are likely to be matched up against each other.

Line: Heat -2, O/U 198

Players to Watch

  • Dwayne Wade, SG, Heat ($7000)
  • Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat ($7800)
  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($7000)
  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic ($8800)

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Knicks @ Celtics

Game Analysis

The Knicks losing streak has reached seven games. They consistently score between 80-95 points no matter the pace scenario or opponent. At this point it is just who they are as a team. On the defensive end they have games where they gave up 90 and other games where they gave up 110, but they always scorein that 85ish range so pace does not seem to make a difference. Since the All star break the Celtics have made some moves and reverted back to their early season style. They are way up n pace with three straight games totaling 210, 229, and 225 with both teams cracking the century mark. Vegas expects the Knicks to be right around that 85-90 range today or a little above and the Celtics to get over 100 points. Losing Sullinger opened up a lot of shots and usage for the guards and it seems everyone is getting in on the act. Bradley, Turner, IT2, and Smart have all been very solid as has Bass, Crowder, and Zeller. If the Celts are back to playing fast again and the prices on these guys all stay reasonable than we have to consider a few of them for today and going forward.

Line: Celtics -12, O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • Brandon Bass, PF, Celtics ($5600)
  • Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($5500)
  • Langston Galloway, PG, Knicks ($5400)
  • Andrea Bargnani, PF, Knicks ($3400)

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Mavericks @ Hawks

Game Analysis

Dallas has won four of it’s last five and played to the under in all of them. The have failed to reach 100 in four of those five and they have some internal strife after Rondo was benched for a verbal spat with his coach in the third quarter of last game. Chandler Parsons is still out and it’s like playing russian roulette with Richard Jefferson and Al Faroq-Aminu in his absence. As for the Hawks, what more can we say. They have been one of the best teams in the league although they too have hit a little snag. They have only won two of their last five and have played to the under more often. Normally they were playing to the under because of solid team defense, but lately they have struggled to score and are giving up more points. In fact they have only cracked 100 once in their last five and three times failed to reach 90. Jeff Teague missed practice yesterday with an illness and that is not good for a team who really needs to right the ship. His status for today is up in the air, so be sure to check on it before tip off. Vegas expects a lot of points here despite both teams struggling to score lately. This is a really tough one to gauge, but I would lean towards the Hawks tonight despite their recent struggles. My guess though would be the under hits in this one, so be careful not to load up here.

Line: Hawks -6, O/U 203

Players to Watch

  • Paul Millsap, PF, Hawks ($8000)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7600)
  • Monta Ellis, SG Mavs ($7300)

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Wizards @ Timberwolves

Game Analysis

Washington has lost four straight games without Bradley Beal and are giving up close to 110 points per. They were one of the best defenses over the first half of the season, so this is concerning. They were never a powerful offense putting up 120 points, so the defense falling apart is a huge problem for them. It’s especially troublesome tonight, because the team they play in the Wolves is finally healthy and they play at a huge pace. They score a ton of points and give up a ton, but that does not really play to Washington’s strength. The bad Washington defense lately is going to struggle to stop the Wolves and even though the Wolves give up a lot of points, the Wizards are not ones to score a ton, so the fact the line moved from Wizards -1.5 to Wolves -2 makes a lot of sense to me here based on recency numbers. I think the Wolves do win this one in a high scoring game and it could even be by a decent margin for them. The Wizards are another team that needs to right the ship quickly or risk being a one and done playoff team again.

Line: Wolves -2, O/U 202

Players to Watch

  • Garrett Temple, SG, Wizards ($3000)
  • Marcin Gortat, C, Wizards ($5200)
  • Kevin Martin, SG, Wolves ($6700)
  • Ricky Rubio, PG, Wolves ($7000)

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Nets @ Pelicans

Game Analysis

There is a lot of injury and illness to report here, so let’s start with that. Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Bojan Bogdanovich, and Ryan Anderson are all out. Jarret Jack is back, but is being limited to a few minutes as he is not 100%. Tyreke Evans also does not feel well. He missed shoot around the other day and is questionable for tonight. It looks like he will play, but may be less then 100%. This is a game to me where it makes more sense to target some of the surer bets at lower prices. Guys like Gordon, Anjica, and Lopez are the safest plays in an otherwise tough to decipher game. The total here is one of the lowest on the day and if some of these guys were not cheap I would advise to stay away completely. There’s too many questions here. Does Jack cut D. Will’s production? Will Tyreke play a normal load of minutes? Can Anjica put more than one good game together? I don’t have any solid answers to any of these and therefore I have no certainty to any of it and that’s too risky for Fantasy purposes.

Line: Nets -2.5, O/U 192

Players to Watch

  • Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans ($6000)
  • Alexis Anjica C, Pelicans ($4300)
  • Brook Lopez, C, Nets ($6600)
  • Deron Williams, PG, Nets ($6700)

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Sixers @ Bucks

Game Analysis

All season long I have stayed away from rostering guys against the Sixers because as bad as they are the performance of starting guards against them has been pretty spotty. Sure we have the occassional guy go for a 40 or 50 spot against them, but it is just as likely we see the guys opposing them get less minutes then they normally do. I know things have changed with the Sixers making some moves, but did those moves make them any better? As it is now they are worse then they were two weeks ago with the loss of their leader and arguably best player. That only increases the blow out risk to me and makes them more of a wildcard. This is the lowest total today and one of the biggest spreads which is the opposite of what we want to target in a game. I will be staying away here and I would advise others to be cautious if you use anyone from this game.

Line: Bucks -10, O/U 189

Players to Watch

  • Robert Covington, PF, Sixers ($6200)
  • Nerlens Noel, PF, Sixers ($5900)
  • Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Bucks ($3900)
  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Bucks ($7500)

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Clippers @ Rockets

Game Analysis

Finally we get to a game we should all be looking at heavily. Highest total with a low spread featuring two fast paced teams with injury shortened rotation spells fantasy goodness. The Clips have won four of five, losing only once last out to Memphis. They have averaged over 114 points in the four wins which includes a 110-95 victory over this Rockets team less than two weeks ago. They have played paced up, yet also seem to be more solid recently on the defensive end, even without Blake Griffin. The Rockets have also been putting up some points averaging over 106 during their last five. They have played alternating games to the over and under due to the high totals they see nightly, so I will not knock them for that. They did struggle in a spot many were expecting them to dominate last week against these Clippers, but that game was in LA and this time they are home. I’m not sure who does win this one, but with a 215 total you have to have some exposure here. I do think this game is going to be high scoring and I would think it stays close enough to see full run for all starters to the end. Stacking this game is an option and not having any exposure is a fool’s errand, so make sure you look extra hard for some plays here. HArden had his worst game in a month against them last time and with the bad Clips wing defense it was shocking to see. I would venture to guess he is chomping at the bit to make up for his bad game last time, and he’s been putting up video game numbers lately. It’s going to be tough to fit him and Paul in a lineup, but it might be worth it today based on the probable game script.

Line: Rockets -3.5, O/U 215

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($11000)
  • Terrence Jones, PF, Rockets ($5700)
  • Chris Paul, PG, Clippers ($10200)
  • DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers ($8800)

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Hornets @ Bulls

Game Analysis

It pains me to say this, but the biggest news today in this one is Derrick Rose is out. He needs another knee surgery after hurting himself yesterday and it is sad to see such a talented guy go down again for the third year in a row. What makes it worse for fantasy is that would mean Aaron Brooks was a must start, but apparently Kirk Heinrich is expected back tonight and that mucks up the whole situation. Both guys could actually still reach value, but if either was not in the picture I would love the other one. The Bulls were finally starting to get on a roll too with six wins in the last seven and Noah starting to play like the stud he was last season. As for the Hornets, they too have been playing better basketball. Mo Williams has been a very solid replacement the Hornets had been lacking since Kemba went down and they welcomed back MKG a few weeks ago and he has been playing well. Charlotte has lost five in a row so while it has not translated into wins they have been playing better. This is another of those low total high spread games on a large slate that you could shy away from. My problem doing that though is we have some really low priced guys who should see big minutes. Especially true if Taj Gibson is out again as well.

Line: Chicago -7.5, O/U 190

Players to Watch

  • Mo Williams, PG, Hornets ($5600)
  • Joakim Noah, C, Bulls ($6800)
  • Aaron Brooks, PG, Bulls ($3400)

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Suns @ Nuggets

Game Analysis

So Phoenix has lost five straight and playing to the over in most of them. They are scoring 110 and giving up over 115. For those who thought trading two point guards away would slow them down that has not been the case yet. The problem they really have is the defense has not improved off of it. For fantasy purposes though it is great place to target as they are scoring and giving up over 110 on average, so they are 10-20% above the levels most other teams are playing to. It’s also troubling for Denver who has lost nine of it’s last ten. They are giving up a ton of points and struggling to score which only gets amplified against a fast paced team like the Suns. We should definitely see some fireworks here tonight and I think anyone who should see big minutes could be a good start in this one.

Line: Suns -4, O/U 214

Players to Watch

  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($7900)
  • Alex Len, C, Suns ($4900)
  • Danilo Gallinari, SF, Nuggets ($5000)
  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets ($8100)

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Lakers @ Jazz

Game Analysis

The Lakers only have one win in their last eight and have played to the over thanks to some horrible defense that has let up some really big numbers to teams who do not normally score that high. There’s no one place to pinpoint as they have allowed guys at every position in recent games to take turns lighting them up. This does not play into the strength of their opponents today though as the Jazz have played five of their last six to the under in low total games where only the high powered Suns have managed to score exactly 100 points. I expect this to be a lower scoring game and maybe even a blowout come the fourth quarter. I just really do not like the Lakers team right now and do not see any way they win many games the rest of the year. I also do not love the Jazz, but they do have some legit NBA players teams fear and covet in guys like Hayward, Favors, and Gobert. I’m not sure there’s any guy on the Lakers roster at present that would start for any other team in the league. Low Total and high spread means another game to be cautious of.

Line: Jazz -9, O/U 191

Players to Watch

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz ($5800)
  • Trey Burke, PG, Jazz ($4500)
  • Jordan Clarkson, PG, Lakers ($4600)
  • Ed Davis, PF, Lakers ($5300)

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Grizzlies @ Kings

Game Analysis

Memphis is hot again winning eight of the last ten games and playing to the under in nine of those. They only allowed Phoenix and OKC to reach 100 against them and they have consistently put up scores in the 90s. The defense is lock down again and they score enough to win games with it. The Kings had played seven straight unders due to their scoring woes and that has recently changed with three straight overs. The totals have dropped and the scoring woes continue, but the real problem is the defense. They have given up an average of over 110 in their last four games and this new up tempo system by George Karl needs to include some defense soon to get them back on a winning track. With the Kings struggling to score and Memphis not allowing points it’s a bad mix. Add in the Kings allow teams to score easily and this game sets up perfect for Memphis. The one saving grace may be that Memphis does not really blow people out often, so maybe it stays close enough to be a game where starters get full run. It’s not my favorite game on the slate but is not my least favorite either, so you can use a few guys, but I would not go heavy here.

Line: Grizzlies -7, O/U 200

Players to Watch

  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($6400)
  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies ($7300)
  • Rudy Gay, SF, Kings ($7400)
  • Ray McCallum, PG, Kings ($3300)

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Spurs @ Blazers

Game Analysis

The Spurs have lost three straight games and are giving up a ton of points. Opponents are averaging about 106 against them lately and it’s not been good. They have also struggled to score some barely averaging over 90 since the break. Everyone is healthy so I’m not really sure why. The Blazers have also lost both games since the restart and both teams are playing to the under. Portland has only managed to muster up an average of 85 points since the break and are giving up closer to 95, so they are paced down over the last few. Aldridge is still banged up and playing hurt, but lately it seems to be weighing on him. He missed Sundays game and sat out practice yesterday although it seems he will play today. How effectively though is still up in the air. The Spurs struggle to guard PG and PF, so maybe this game sets up better for the Blazers. Parker, Ginobili, and Leonard have not done much lately and the only saving grace is Tim Duncan who alternates great and horrible games recently. The minutes are always the big thing with him, but there is no rhyme or reason to them lately. This should be a close game between two teams who have struggled to score and reach the totals recently, so it’s not the exciting last game hammer we usually get when Golden State plays. Still I think it stays close and at least one of the big guns on each side has a nice night.

Line: Blazers -3, O/U 195

Players to Watch

  • Tim Duncan, C, Spurs ($6800)
  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($6700)
  • Damian Lillard, PG, Blazers ($8000)
  • Robin Lopez, C, Blazers ($4500)